When Will Americans
Realize They've Been Had?

By Maureen Farrell

"If you want to know the truth, I blame the Bush campaign for the death of [Lars Erik] Nelson, one of the best journalists in America. . . Nelson saw what was going on in Florida early on, and he didn't see it with any equanimity: One of his colleagues at the Daily News called him on the day of his death, the afternoon of the televised Florida Supreme Court argument, and recalled Nelson crying out, 'I can't believe they said that!' over some outrageous assertion by the lawyers for Ms. Harris and Mr. Bush."
"A few hours later, he was found in front of his television set, dead of a stroke. No one will convince me it was unrelated." - Ron Rosenbaum [<>LINK]
It's been nearly three years now, and almost as many since we were told to just "get over it." And honestly, without Sept. 11 inconsistencies or Bush's pre-planned wars or assaults on civil liberties or the hubris and arrogance and embarrassing treatment of long-held allies, many of us would have accepted the Supreme Court's decision and learned to live with the temporary hand we'd been dealt.
Instead, however, the red flags raised three years ago foretold more ominous developments. The 2000 election wasn't merely a Constitutional crisis, it was an all-American coup designed to change the United States forever. And let's not delude ourselves. While Bill Clinton's impeachment was a prequel to this takeover, voting machine snafus, the California recall and Texas redistricting are all part of a plan to usurp democracy yet again.
Even before Sept. 11, the Florida fiasco was a wake-up call. If the election had not unraveled the way it did, many of us would have never comprehended the gravity of the situation. We would have thought of Clinton's impeachment as just insane partisan politics and would most likely not have discovered how, in the wee hours of that Wednesday morning, Jeb assured George that Florida was in the bag. "Let me explain something," Al Gore reportedly said. "Your younger brother is not the ultimate authority on this." But alas, America's preferred candidate didn't realize that Katherine Harris had hired Database Technologies to scrub 90,000 folks from Florida's voter rolls.
So, yes, Fate intervened in November 2000 to tell us that something is indeed very wrong and that unless we start paying attention, we might as well kiss our democratic illusions goodbye. As it stands now, however, the election outrage was just part of a saga which, if it were a movie, would not be believed.
"Make no mistake about it: We are At War now -- with somebody -- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives," Hunter S. Thompson wrote on Sept. 12, 2001, predicting that the war would morph into a continuation of the first Gulf War, which our "goofy child-President, [had] been chosen by Fate and the global Oil industry to finish." [<>LINK]
A couple months later, an unnamed source told Greg Palast that, "There is a hidden agenda at the very highest levels of our government."
Of course, this is what used to be known as crazy talk, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the reality presented to us by the media and government officials is far removed from reality. Pundits repeatedly invoke the term "conspiracy theory" to rebuff truths that bubble to the surface, but just to make things clear: Talk of the Illuminati enslaving humanity in some sort of Satanic master plan is an example of conspiracy theory. Saying that the Bush gang manipulated the election, fumbled the ball on 911 [<>LINK]
and waged a war that's been planned since 1992 is merely stating well-documented and easily researched facts.
But, of course, that's just the introduction to this story. We're also in the throes of a radical movement to alter America as we know it. Ironically, those who defend and depict the war as a mission to protect our way of life are victims of the cruelest abuse of patriotism and trust. Not only did Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and the other folks at the Project for a New American Century hijack foreign policy, but, as early as 2000, drafted a decidedly un-American wish list -- and George Bush delivered. Preventative war and a permanent military presence in Iraq? No problem. Multiple wars on multiple fronts? They got it. A heftier defense budget? Their wish was Bush's command. The Pearl Harbor type attack they deemed necessary for these changes occurred on Sept. 11, with subsequent secret detentions, a shadow bunker government, and draconian legislation making a mockery of the Land of the Free.
To top it all off, the architects of the Bush administration's domestic policies are currently in the process of steamrolling through a domestic agenda that goes against the wishes of the majority of Americans. Princeton University economist and New York Times op-ed columnist Paul Krugman warns that lobbyists like Grover Norquist and think tanks like the Heritage Foundation have been explicit about their long term plans to dismantle social safeguards that have been in place since the 1930s. They discuss "starving the beast" and depriving the government of the revenue it needs to finance Social Security, Medicare and other New Deal/Great Society safety nets. Norquist once said "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub," and as Krugman told NPR's Terry Gross, the ultimate goal is "the dismantling of America as we know it." [<
"I've gradually come to realize that we are facing a challenge to our way of life, an internal challenge," Krugman said. "The real threat isn't some terrorist who can kill a few people now and then, but are not fundamentally a threat to the continuation of America as I know it, but the internal challenge from very powerful domestic political forces who want to do away with America as I know it. It's just clear to me that this is one of those crucial points in American history."
Saying that the Bush administration is merely pretending that the tax cuts are temporary (while planning on making them permanent), Krugman says that this stealth group of operatives has long been attempting to return to government the way it was when Herbert Hoover was president. The tax cuts are meant to restrict or extract the revenue necessary to fund the programs that make America a kinder and gentler nation and we should begin to feel the pinch four or five years down the road. When baby boomers start retiring a decade from now, things will be decidedly worse. But, of course, anyone who tries to speak out about this will be shouted down like a Dixie Chick.
Currently, people think the U.S. is immune to economic catastrophe, but, as Krugman explains, we're not the country we used to be. Three short years ago, we had a budget surplus and "America was a well-run, solid place." Presently, however, the government is being run by irresponsible ideologues who could be paving the way for an Argentina style "spiral of fiscal collapse." In Krugman's mind, there is definitely going to be "some sort of crash," and one of three things will definitely happen. There will be either: 1) A major tax increase 2) Medicare and Social Security will have to be cut drastically or 3) The U.S. will go bankrupt and we'll have a "banana republic style budget crisis."
"When did I know that there was something seriously strange and frightening about the Bush people?" Krugman muses. "It was during the campaign when they unveiled the social security program. . . what they were proposing was nonsense." He also concludes that the administration's long-term economic forecast, which is tucked way in the back of the current budget, "paints a portrait of disaster."
"We're looking at irresponsibility that I don't think you can find before in American political history," Krugman says. Not only are we possibly "dismantling institutions that do a lot to make America a more decent place," but seem to be trashing the international institutions that we ourselves initiated. And as for the Bushies? "We seem to have people who at the first possibility, as soon as they were given the opportunity, they jumped at a whole series of restrictions on individual freedoms and greatly enhanced tools for centralized control. It's a very scary thing. . . There's a combination of irresponsibility and authoritarianism in the people running the country that I find very very frightening."
Else you think this is mere hyperbole, just think back to before the war, and remember what happened to those who tried to tell the truth. Donald Rumsfeld, for example, swatted aside concerns while issuing standard assurances that Iraqis would be dancing in the streets. "You saw what happened in Afghanistan," he said in December 2002. "The people were out in the streets, and they had balloons, and they played music and they welcomed the U.S. because everyone knows the United States doesn't want to occupy Iraq."
One month later, the Chicago Tribune explained the unpopular and "treasonous" anti-war position. "If we launch the war [on Iraq] over the objections of our friends, we may find none of them eager to put boots on the ground to help with reconstruction," Steve Chapman warned. "So we could end up with 100,000 American soldiers pinned down indefinitely, undertaking the type of nation-building that Bush used to reject. But nation-building may be the least of our burdens... Post-war Iraq promises to be a magnet for Al Qaeda operatives eager to resume the fight against America. If we can't prevent terrorist attacks in places like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, imagine what we can expect in Iraq."
Though 80% of Americans now realize that Bush lied about the reasons for war, it's rather disturbing that nearly 7 in 10 still believe that Saddam was involved in 911. But that's how effective the propaganda campaign was -- and why this administration has gotten away with excessive secrecy, gross distortions and a massive power grab.
"If there's regime change in 2004," Krugman told BuzzFlash, "and the new man actually manages to steer us away from the disasters I see in front of us, then we'll probably be talking a lot about the long boom that was begun during the Clinton years, and how it was resilient, even to an episode of incredibly bad management."
"But I don't think that's the way it's going to play out, to be honest. Whatever happens in the election, I think that we've done an extraordinary amount of damage in the last three years."
Krugman is similarly pessimistic about the repercussions in Iraq, warning of "a one-in-three chance that unrest in Iraq [will spread] to Saudi Arabia. And if that happens, of course, then we're talking about a mammoth disaster."
"There's this feeling of creeping dread," he added. [<>LINK]
Unfortunately, if Krugman is correct, by the time most Americans realize we've been had, it will be too late. Many have yet to awaken to the fact that our emotions and sentiments -- from fear to patriotism to goodwill -- have been used against us for the past two years; humanitarian crises are looming in Iraq and Afghanistan; and hopes for a kinder, gentler America are slowly being stripped away.
"If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever," George Orwell wrote.
The future, my fellow Americans, is upon us.
Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.
Copyright 2003, Maureen Farrell
Reprinted from BuzzFlash:




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